[b-greek] RE: Fronting

From: Iver Larsen (iver_larsen@sil.org)
Date: Tue Oct 16 2001 - 16:23:28 EDT

> Iver,
> I read your last post and Alex Hopkins' (RE: Jn.3:15,16 PISTEUW EN) with
> great interest. Now I would like to address "fronting" as a
> isolated topic.
> My problem with "fronting" is that every time I pick up the GNT counter
> examples start leaping off the pages. This morning it was 2Pt 2:1:
May be your "counter examples" stem from jumping to quickly to conclusions
based on various presuppositions and assumptions.

> Here we have clause initial EGENONTO which has low semantic content just
> like ESTIN. But in narrative EGENONTO is very often toward the
> front of the
> clause. This has something (what?) to do with narrative discourse patterns
> but I don't think it has anything to do with the level of semantic content
> (a completely different issue than relative prominence).

I would not say that EGENONTO has low semantic content. Whether something
happens or something does not happen is very important. You may remember
that my comment on ESTIN made a distinction between ESTIN used as a copula
and its use as a verb of existence (as in 2 Pet 2:1). In this last case it
is closer to "happen" and has significant semantic content. Semantic content
is one of the many factors involved in word order and relative prominence,
and if you ignore that, I am afraid you are ignoring an important factor.
But semantic content only helps to explain why the SAME lexical item in some
contexts is more prominent than in others.

What does the KAI do in the first clause? It must relate to the previous
chapter talking about true prophets. So, Peter has been reminding the
readers of the true prophets in the OT. But there WERE ALSO false prophets
among the people. The fact that such false prophets came into being is
important in this clause. It starts off a topic of falsehood.
> Now note the position of EN TWi LAWi relative to the verb and
> contrast it to
> the position of EN hUMIN relative to ESONTAI. Are we to conclude from this
> that EN hUMIN is more prominent than EN TWi LAWi? This is possible but I
> have lingering doubts. I think that Peter's administrative
> assistant is just
> pulling a little semi chaisim here.

Don't forget the word "relative" in this whole business. That a word is last
does not necessarily mean it is insignificant, but it is less prominent that
the items in front of it.
> Finally what is the one word in this verse with the most significant
> semantic content and also the most discourse prominence? The word is
> YEUDODIDASKALOI. What is its position? Dead last.

One of the factors is the dichotomy between known and new information. New
info is always more prominent than old. Peter is expecting his readers to
know about the false prophets in the OT. He is reminding them that they DID
EXIST. But did they expect that EVEN AMONG THEM there would come into being
false teachers? It is correct that the false teachers becomes the topic from
when it is first mentioned, but introducing a topic is not the same as
marking prominence. The kind of question I am asking is: Why does ESONTAI
come before YEUDODIDASKALOI? Probably because it is important to note that
these people WILL COME ON THE SCENE. And not just in the OT, even among you.
It is only by the continuative relative clause following that the
YEUDODIDASKALOI is shown to be the ongoing topic.
> Thanks for all the discussion.
> Friendly greetings to everyone,

The same to you,

Iver Larsen

B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: [jwrobie@mindspring.com]
To unsubscribe, forward this message to leave-b-greek-327Q@franklin.oit.unc.edu
To subscribe, send a message to subscribe-b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:09 EDT